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DJ Uiagalelei Should Stay in School for Final Season of Eligibility

DJ Uiagalelei

The 2020 college football season completely altered the sport. Games played during that fascinating, COVID-19-altered season essentially didn’t count toward players’ eligibility. With that, we have seen players spend five or even six years at the collegiate level. The position impacted the most has been quarterback. Having an older quarterback is a massive advantage for some schools. These players can continue to improve while playing college football, and be closer to a finished product when they reach the NFL. Some have used these rules to improve their draft stock with extra seasons, such as Detroit Lions draft pick Hendon Hooker. Others have used this to play football for as long as possible, knowing that their NFL future is murky, at best, like Notre Dame quarterback Sam Hartman. How about Oregon State quarterback DJ Uiagalelei.

The 2023 season saw several fifth and sixth-year quarterbacks shine, including every Heisman finalist. The 2024 season will also see some older quarterbacks, but there is one player who stands out the most. DJ Uiagalelei, a former 5-star recruit, has had an up-and-down career. Uiagalelei started his career at Clemson. The hype reached a fever pitch during a game in which Trevor Lawrence was out with COVID-19. Uiagalelei started a game and defeated Notre Dame. The next two seasons at Clemson were a massive disappointment. Over the next two seasons, “DJU” would face intense criticism and was ultimately benched. Uiagalelei transferred to Oregon State to play for the Beavers in 2023. With his coach leaving for Lansing and Oregon State without a conference, Uiagalelei is, once again, looking for a new home. He has announced that he is mulling over a decision between declaring for the NFL draft or transferring once again.

Why DJ Uiagalelei Should Avoid the NFL Draft

Intriguing Skillset

There is a lot to like with Uiagalelei. For starters, he is listed at 6-4, 250 pounds. He is a mammoth of a quarterback, which naturally means he has a strong arm. He doesn’t just have a strong arm, he has a cannon attached to his right shoulder. For reference, the Los Angeles Dodgers selected him in the 20th round of the MLB Draft, despite being away from the sport for nearly four years. Why you ask? Because as a Senior in high school, Uiagalelei was throwing 93 mph fastballs. Uiagalelei has also reportedly thrown a football 85 yards during his time at Clemson. There is not much more you can say about his arm. He may have the strongest arm in college football and it may not be close.

Along with his arm strength, Uiagalelei has shown tremendous ability as a runner, primarily because he is bigger than most linebackers. In three years and some change, he has amassed over 1,100 yards on the ground with 21 touchdowns. Will his arm and athleticism attract NFL suitors? Absolutely, but it may not be the best decision for him to go pro just yet. The reality of the situation is that NIL has made staying in school to raise your draft stock incredibly attractive. Uiagalelei could be someone who benefits greatly from staying in school.

Stay or go?

DJ Uiagalelei is a player that should absolutely stay in school. While his traits are tantalizing, he is a late-round project at this point. Another year in school, hopefully at a school with a great supporting cast, could greatly improve his stock for the 2025 class. To this point, Uiagalelei is nowhere near ready to play at the next level. His biggest struggle comes with accuracy. Whether it is from a clean or muddy pocket, there are just far too many throes that get away from him. He could certainly benefit from working on putting more touch on some throws. A year with a coach who understands the position could completely change his outlook. There are certainly many options for him to end up. Uiagalelei could choose to stay in-state and play with his brother at Oregon. He could also choose to go to another powerhouse program in need of a quarterback such as Washington or Florida State.

Main Photo: Troy Wayrynen – USA Today Sports


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